The very existence of this record, and of enigmatic London/Berlin-based electronic duo Hype Williams in general, wonderfully sums up what has been great about music in 2010. That’s not to say that this is necessarily one of the best releases of the year – actually, the fact that it isn’t a top-ten-list contender is a large part of its charm – but there’s something incredibly likeable in its sketchbook-like imperfections and low-budget tone.
Hype Williams aren’t the sort of act that exist to create album-of-the-year masterworks; they’re the type of band whose music you stumble across streaming on some dark corner of the internet, or turn up on unlabelled CD-R mixtapes. Their wonderfully cryptic aesthetic is only added to by fact that they hide their identities behind possibly false names and comically absurd rumours (the best of which being that the band are actually a side-project of Joss Stone).
Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Start Gettin’ Reel started out life as a series of low budget YouTube videos that the duo created and uploaded during the first half of 2010. The videos themselves, as with the songs that soundtrack them, are rough and simple, based on the repetition of a basic idea, often pillaging footage and references from pop culture - at once reminiscent both of the visual art of Andy Warhol and of a couple of drunk teenagers with a webcam.
Like the videos, the music that accompanies these clips – released here on 12” by Minneapolis label De Stijl – are constructions of simple, yet interesting ideas. Lo-fi synth lines wash over dub-like bass and warped pop melodies. Weird downshifted samples from everyday life mesh with very retro-sounding drum machines to construct the beats.
Opener ‘Rescue Dawn’ kicks off with what sounds like a pitchshifted sample of a baby crying (although it could just as easily be a mangled clip from some R&B track), before sliding into a retro hip-hop synth riff that underpins a down-tuned reading of the Pokémon theme. The record continues in this sort of bizarre vein throughout: electronically-mangled rap and R&B sounds keep things surprisingly funky, while pop-culture plundering and skewed layers of reverb inject a constant level of unsettling art-house cool.
As with many of 2010’s best releases - particularly those coming from the Olde English Spelling Bee stable - Find Out What Happens… wears its no-budget, bedroom origins proudly on its sleeve. It’s not a particularly polished or complete sounding record - more a collage of ideas, found sounds and works in progress (several songs here are untitled, as was the band’s entire debut LP from earlier this year). And that’s what’s great about Hype Williams’ music; listening to it feels like riffling through a scrapbook, a relatively unprocessed collection of ideas that have come straight from the artist’s bedroom into your own.
The fact that these songs first emerged as YouTube videos is testament to exactly why the internet isn’t killing music. A more apt name for the record would be ‘find out what happens when you give creative minds with no money a platform to release their music for free.’ Everything about Hype Williams – from their playful elusiveness to the rough edges of their music and the way they chose to share it with the world – typifies what make the internet a great platform for music to be discovered and shared.
8Si Truss's Score